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A letter from Lynn and Sharon Kandel serving in South Sudan
February 2015 - Getting Started
Greetings from warm Juba!
We finished our packing in a snowstorm and got off the plane in hot Juba! Now we are not complaining at all, but maybe, just maybe, we are rubbing it in that we are not dealing with snow, ice and bitter cold temperatures.
We have gotten settled into our new home. This is a first for us to live in an apartment building and has taken some getting used to, but we have found everyone to be helpful.
Having arrived Dec. 5, we were not sure what to expect for Christmas. We were invited to a church service in one of the camps here in Juba, and it was a wonderful experience. The ladies singing and dancing, all the different choirs, the different languages being spoken all around, and the joy that everyone was expressing that THIS Christmas was not like last Christmas. I am humbled by the joy and love of people who have been through, and lost, so much.Continue reading
A letter from Leisa Wagstaff in South Sudan
January 2015 - Pockets of Peace
Dear Partners in Mission,
I was born in war.
I grew in war.
I got snatches of simple schooling in war.
I slept in mango groves to hide from war.
I wore leaves as clothes in war because there was nothing else.
I married in war and bore children in war.
From birth till now,
I’m still in war.
I probably will die in war.
One of my dear sister friends gave this testimony during a recent leadership development training. However, the account wasn’t uniquely hers, for anyone under or over her age of 47 could lay claim to it. Maybe some of their accounts differ slightly in that they can include being a child soldier or war slave, or perhaps they can say that they witnessed the murder of every member of their family or saw their entire village burned to ashes. Nonetheless, she and so many others state that this inhumanity to humanity is something they can never wish upon another or forget, and they all long for the day when peace reigns in their homeland. They each say they are tired of living without peace and being Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) or refugees in neighboring countries. They ask why war continues.Continue reading
A letter from Esther Wakeman serving in Thailand
Winter 2015 - A Wonderful Week
After our once-a-semester all faculty and staff meetings this week I asked a friend from Canada who has been teaching at Payap University (Chiang Mai, Thailand, where I work) how she felt about the faculty meeting. She said without hesitation, “It’s the best one I’ve been to in all my time at Payap” (about seven years). “What made it so?” I asked. She thought for a moment, and then said, “The president is so open and so real.” We human beings can deeply sense “REAL” or the lack thereof, and our new president, Dr. Sompan Wongdee, is wonderfully genuine. She had made sure we left lots of time in both meetings for questions, comments, and suggestions. She had already shared with the community some of the wonderful things we’ve accomplished together in the past six months and the huge challenges we face to recruit more students and become a better functioning organization. She didn’t mince words when she invited people who do nothing but complain to please find work elsewhere, where they can be happy. We need to reduce our staff and faculty numbers significantly and we need solutions to problems and people ready to work hard together toward those solutions.Continue reading
A letter from Kurt Esslinger serving in South Korea
February 2015 - Annual Ministry Update, 2014
God’s version of gathering community together involves amazing feats in the midst of hostility as expressed in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, bringing together those far away from each other, breaking down walls of hostility, and making us all members of the household of God. “In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:21-22). Hyeyoung and I seek to live into this image of the holy temple in the Lord through our work and efforts alongside our partners here in Korea. Currently we undertake that work through a Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) Program site that Hyeyoung focuses most on and a position at the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) with their Reconciliation and Unification Department (RUD) which I focus most on.Continue reading
A letter from Stephen and Brenda Stelle serving in Ethiopia
January 2014 - Special Days
2 Christmases, 1 Wedding and a Funeral!
Our traditional Christmas (Dec. 25) began with the special gift of the arrival of our younger son from the States. We picked up Caleb at the Addis Ababa airport and spent a few days visiting friends and exploring the city before bringing him to Dembi Dollo for a week.
Then our Ethiopian Christmas (Jan 7— following the Gregorian calendar) entailed a multiday celebration. Since students go home for Christmas, the dormitory students commemorated Christmas the weekend of Friday, Jan 2, and Saturday, Jan 3. However, preparations for the event began days in advance, with one of those preparations taking place in our home. On Saturday evening there is an elaborate Christmas dinner and a few of Brenda’s 12th grade girls asked her to bake the cakes for the dinner. She did them one better and offered to teach them how to bake the cakes. So for three afternoons Brenda taught several girls about cooking and together they baked the 10 cakes needed for the 175 people attending the dinner. They had a wonderful time together and produced delicious cakes.Continue reading
A letter from Nancy Smith-Mather serving in South Sudan
February 2015 - Full of Praise
Christmas in South Sudan, Full of Praise
What do you do for Christmas in Africa?
How do South Sudanese celebrate Christmas?
Do you have a Christmas tree?
If you do have a Christmas tree how long does it live in the hot weather?
Andy and Hailey, Sunday School students from Bessemer Presbyterian Church in Pennsylvania, sent us these questions. We loved getting their letter, and we thought you all would enjoy hearing some of our responses.
In the many churches in our small town in South Sudan Christmas is celebrated with great enthusiasm!
“On Christmas Eve we are in church for prayers until midnight,” explained a South Sudanese friend. “Then we go home," she said, her voice filled with excitement, "and get ready to come back to church in the morning to celebrate the day that Mary gave birth to Jesus!”Continue reading
Thank You and Your Family for serving God by taking His word so far from Your Home.
God is doing his work and using us a tools in other nations.during my working here in Athens i observed that there are many oppertunities to share the Gospel massage with other those do not know Jesus and we can bring them to Jesus Christ.Please prayer for me that i'm a very littel to that God is using me here in Athens Greece. God bless you.